April 13, 2010

Orson Welles: A Media Wars Apart


DreamWork's recent re-release of their "War of the Worlds" film, this time on DVD gives us great reason to re-release the "War of the Welles" essay by Culture Editor, Kurt Brokaw, below.

We believe it possesses a wars-apart more astounding narrative all 21st century Madison Avenue "media poets" should review in the guiding of their work today.

Clearly, the wizardry of Spielberg's special effects was nothing short of amazing. However, other than the visual " eye-candy", it has none of the "theatre of the mind" quality and intrigue that Brokaw's detail of Orson Welles' special live radio-cast possessed. No strangers to Welles' media tom-foolery, we expected Cruise and Spielberg's work to have more "there, there".

H.G. Wells was a fine writer and created a great thriller in his day. However, Orson Welles was really the authority who brought the story to life when he acted it out with his radio team, creating the illusion that it was actually happening by having "reporters" call in who were "on the scene."

Recently, Welles and his radio team's media gag was reproduced on today's global interactive audiences, though with none of the same frightening impact. Nevertheless, it is somewhat of a modern-day equivalent, produced by media King Richard Branson with his Virgin Mobile Australia prank ad campaign. Both flimflams of course relied on a con game being played out on their unsuspecting audience. Plus, both media scam's serious, continuing plot and story sequence helped establish believability and allowed them to have take on a word-of-mouth "life of their own".

Kurt's story though focuses on another person's "life of their own", that of Kane's Orson Welles, whose love for hoodwinking overpowered his audiences and then his own career.


Never risk-averse, his penalty for taking decisive chances--in duty to his art--created truly timeless masterpieces. Perhaps a more courageous adaptation of Welles' risk-taking chutzpah might light a fuse under Cruise, Spielberg and Branson to be more daring next time, so that the "life of their own" projects' legacies live longer.


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